Categorized | Business, National News

Gov’t to Revisit VAT Proposal

Now that the government has announced plans to regularise and tax web shops in the country Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said the government will now consider revisiting the details of the proposed Value Added Tax (VAT) as well as other forms of taxation.

“If the government is able to “realise revenue” from web gaming then it could possibly relax on other revenue raising measures,” he said.

“Based on the system as it is, if we can implement the regulation of the web gaming and begin to realise revenue from it, then we may have the opportunity to revisit all the proposals that we have to determine okay, if we now can get ‘X’ amount of revenue from here, does that give us flexibility to relax on this other side, and that’s a conversation that we will have.”

Tourism and Gaming Minister Obie Wilchcombe said in the House of Assembly Wednesday night that web shops will be regulated by July 1.

While delivering his contribution to the 2013/2014 mid-year budget debate in the House of Assembly, Minister Wilchcombe told parliamentarians that he plans to table the bill soon.

“I plan to bring to the Government of The Bahamas in two weeks the regulations that are being proposed by my ministry, the regulations that I hope to bring to Parliament and lay on the table of the House of Assembly when we have the debate on gaming, to make regularised web shops official by July 1 this year,” he announced at the time.

“We’re not going any further. We’re wasting time on this debate. It’s on my watch and I think that we’re doing something wrong. The time has come and the ministry responsible is now moving forward with it and we will make it effective in this country on July 1 because it’s the start of a new fiscal year and the country should benefit from the revenue.”

For more than a year there has been a standoff in the country over the thorny issue.

Last January the government held a controversial referendum on the issue asking Bahamians if they wanted web shops to be taxed and regulated and if they wanted the country to establish a national lottery.

Out of 82,803 votes, 50,270 people voted against the referendum and 32,533 voted in favour of regulating the industry.

The Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) and many religious leaders were staunchly opposed to the idea of legalising an industry that has for years been illegal.

Despite this, Minister Wilchcombe added that it is the government’s duty to govern.

“The church is the church and we respect the church,” he added. “No one in this country could question the PLP’s (Progressive Liberal Party) relationship with the church.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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